6 laws that won’t be changed thanks to the Assembly collapse

26 01 2017

Stormont

The collapse of the Assembly means that radical new laws will fall at midnight tonight. Here are 6 new laws that are now suspended:

1) Marriage Equality

SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood was set to introduce a new law which would legalise marriage for same sex couples in Northern Ireland. The Bill, supported by MLAs from a majority of parties in the Assembly, would have brought the North into step with the rest of these islands, sending a message of hope and acceptance in a society where it’s desperately needed.

2) Housing and Homelessness

Former Belfast Mayor and now North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon was working on legislation to tackle the causes of homelessness, bring together agencies working with those who find themselves homeless and increase support available for people sleeping rough.

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The introduction of punitive welfare reform mechanisms by the current Executive and British Government means that homelessness is set to become an even more critical threat to families and individuals in the years ahead.

3) Ban Fracking

Fermanagh South Tyrone man Richie McPhillips understands the value of our beautiful natural heritage, particularly to our tourism economy. That’s why he was building on the moratorium on fracking introduced by SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan with legislation to place a statutory ban on fracking across Northern Ireland, protecting our heritage and our environment.

4) Breastfeeding protection

Before the collapse of the institutions, Claire Hanna had already put her Bill to protect breastfeeding mums and babies out for consultation. The law change was so popular, the consultation response received more replies than the whole Executive Programme for Government.

There remains no law in Northern Ireland protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed her child in a restaurant, cafe or other public place.

5) Acht na Gaeilge

Gaeilgeoir Patsy McGlone was working on an Irish Language act to protect, promote and enhance the rights of Irish language speakers throughout the North. Despite being a commitment in several agreements and despite Sinn Féin holding the culture Ministry for the longest unbroken spell in the history of devolution, no action has been taken on this law. The SDLP was committed to taking a stand on this long before the Assembly collapsed.

6) Investment equality

For too long, places outside Belfast and particularly west of the Bann have been deprived of their fair share of investment. That’s led to a loss of public services, underdeveloped infrastructure and a loss of jobs. SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood was working on a law that would place a statutory duty on all government departments and public bodies to give specific consideration to regional economic balance when making investment decisions.

This place is bigger than the greater Belfast area and Stormont needs to realise that.

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